16- 30 January 2010
S2 14.666 E130 33.401 – MER
Loads of divers dream of owning a resort in an island paradise in the tropics surrounded by pristine coral reefs and lots of fish. When out at sea, palm trees and sunshine seem to make our brains go funny and think within the lines of “what if I buy an island and live on it and dive all day long? And while I‘m at it, protect the body of water I’m in so I can benefit from it the rest of my life?” Sounds mad and an escape from reality? But the fact is, dreams do come true. And when you put your mind, soul and body into it, Misool Eco Resort is what comes out of dreams.
In 2006 an energized gang of dreamers had visions of a resort sitting right smack at the best dive sites of south Raja Ampat – or one of the best diving areas in the world. Misool is the site and Batbitim is the Robinson Crusoe Island. With their own money and with a great deal of fund raising, they went through blood, sweat and possibly a few tears to get a world class resort built and running by October 2008. They have a great blog in their “MER news” section that give more behind the scenes stories of the making of an Eco Resort built entirely from salvaged wood. It’s a great read.
But why is Raja Ampat so famous? It’s in every diver’s wish list and after diving it many times now, I think I can somewhat tell you why. The water is warm, the reefs are lush and the fish life is abundant. Biodiversity is at its peak here. The human population is low and the islands are so remote from the nearest city, which in this case is Sorong. The Papuan villagers from Yellu own the waters around here and they practice the tradition of Sasi which means the traditional right of opening a season for catching a particular marine species and closing the season when enough marine life has been caught. With MER buying the 25 year lease to 425 sq km of Misool waters and turning it into a no-take zone, fish life is at a state as it should be. Healthy. The islands and reefs are close to each other and the waters flow through in between reefs creating current fed massive healthy corals like gorgonian fans, soft corals and of course, hard corals. But it’s the brilliant colors of the octocorals that makes this place unique.
Our next stop – Cape Kri, North Raja Ampat with Papua Diving.